Stay Safe Using Harm Reduction Practices

Harm reduction practices keep people safe

What is Harm Reduction? Harm reduction programs have demonstrated effectiveness in minimizing HIV and HCV transmission among persons suffering from substance abuse disorder.

The central elements of harm reduction include acceptance that people who use drugs are entitled to basic human rights and provision of practical accessible policies and services aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. In 1994, the Community Risk Reduction Services team began the BCHD Syringe Exchange Program. In its beginnings, the HIV transmission rates among Injection Drug Users was 64.4%. Today the HIV infection rate among the same populations has decreased to less than 6%. The Baltimore City Health Department Community Risk Reduction Services team hosts a number of  free harm reduction and education services throughout Baltimore City. The CRRS Syringe Exchange program has been providing services including overdose prevention education, and distributing naloxone since 2004 through the Staying Alive program. Needle Exchange services are provided in 16 locations during 26 weekly time slots throughout the city of Baltimore.

The CRRS team provides harm reduction in a non-judgmental manner that reduces the negative consequences of drug use among high-risk individuals and the general public.

If you are currently using drugs, especially opioids, there are steps you can take to keep yourself safer from overdose:

  • Never use alone.
  • Have naloxone with you and know how to use it.
  • Go slow, especially if you are using something different from what you normally have.

If you need help with substance use or mental health

Call the 24/7 hotline in Baltimore City at 410-433-5175.